Thursday May 13, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Our Lady of Fatima
Reading (Acts 15:7-21)†† Gospel (St. John 15:9-11)
In the first reading today, we hear this debate that took place at what is known as the Council of Jerusalem as to whether or not the Gentile converts would have to become Jewish, that is, whether or not they would have to be circumcised according to the law of Moses. The real question was not only that, but also was Christianity a part of Judaism or was it something that was completely separate? We note that as the debate goes on, it is when Peter stands up to speak that it ends. No one else said anything except James, who was the bishop of Jerusalem, and he is the one then who wrote the letter. But once Peter spoke, the debate was over. It was then just a matter of the technicalities of how they were going to produce things; but beyond that, we see the authority once again of Saint Peter.
We also see what James has to say, as the Old Testament reading that he pulls out speaks about how God is going to raise up the fallen hut of Israel and He is going to bring in the Gentiles and make a new Israel, if you will. We will see the exact same thing happening within the Church. We are going to see the Church rising from the rubble, from the ruins into which she has been plunged. She is going to be glorious, more glorious than ever before, and the reason for that is because God is going to purify the Church. He has been doing that for a while and it is soon to happen on a universal level in a way that has never been before. Then He is going to bring into the Church all of those who will be faithful to Him. There are far too many very unfaithful people within the Church, not only those who today claim to be Catholic and of course are anything but Catholic, but also those who in any way claim to be Christian and demonstrate themselves by the way they live to be completely opposite of that. All of this is going to be removed, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Today, as we celebrate this glorious feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we are reminded that there is only one part of the Fatima message that has not been fulfilled, and that is the Triumph of Our Ladyís Immaculate Heart. Everything else has been accomplished except for that, and it is for that which we await. It is this which is going to begin very soon to take place, right in our own world and in our own lifetime. So we need to remain faithful.
Our Lord told us in the Gospel reading that we are to remain in His love. And the way we remain in His love, He says, is to keep His commandments, just as He kept His Fatherís commandments and He remained in His Fatherís love. He tells us that if we do that our joy will be complete because His joy will be in us. That is the promise Our Lord is making as long as we remain faithful to Him. That is all we are being asked to do: live the Faith that we profess, be faithful to the Lord, and be willing to put our faith into practice, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the cost might be. It is to remain faithful to Jesus in everything. If we consider the commandments that He gave to us, of course, the one commandment that He gave us is to love. But if we are going to love God with our whole heart and soul and strength, it means even to be willing to die for Him if that is going to be necessary, because there are going to be a multitude of martyrs in the very near future. And so the question is, who has God chosen for such a glorious thing?
Even if we are not martyred, we still need to remain faithful. We have to be detached from the things of the self so we can do the Will of God. Our Lord tells us that it is in this that we are going to find our joy. It is not going to be in all the other things that the world has to offer. As we looked at yesterday, those are the things the devil is offering us and we are reveling in it. It is time that we find true joy, not this fleeting selfish kind of joy that comes from having new things or fancier things or more expensive things or whatever it might be, but the deep and abiding joy that comes only from doing the Will of God, from being united with Him in all things, from following Godís ways and keeping His commandments. That is what each one of us is being asked to do, to bring God out into a world that is hostile, that is pagan, that does not want anything to do with God Ė but is very soon going to see the reality of God that in their blindness they have refused to see. They will continue to refuse to see it, but the reality for each one of us is that no matter how bad things get we have to remain faithful.
When Our Lord tells us that we have to love Him and follow His commandments as He loved the Father and followed His commandments, all we need to do is look at Our Lordís Passion. Look at what He endured right up to the Cross and to His death. It is that which demonstrates His fidelity to God more than anything. And it is that which He is asking of us, to love Him that much, to keep His commandments to the end, to remain faithful. If we do, we are going to see the glorious Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.